Four years ago, he was the toast of the music industry, a string of sold-out arena shows under his belt and his third platinum-selling album topping the charts.
But then James Morrison disappeared. His soulful voice fell silent, the appearances dried up and baffled fans were kept waiting and waiting for his next release.
Morrison had become a virtual recluse from the music scene, holed up in the mansion that his six million album sales had bought him - literally building a high gate to shelter himself from the outside world.
Only now has he finally emerged from that self-imposed exile with the release of a long-awaited new album. And only now is he able to speak of the demons that he has fought in his extended spell away.
It was the deaths of his father, brother and nephew within the space of three years that made him reluctant to return to the limelight, and in his powerful interview with The Mail on Sunday he reveals how work kept him from hearing his father's last words to him.
And although it was his love for his own daughter, Elsie, that ultimately saw him through the dark days - he discloses the heartbreaking news that his dream of having more children may also be dashed.
Despite it all, the 32-year-old now says: "I'm the happiest I have ever been," revelling in the rave reviews that his comeback album, Higher Than Here, has received and looking forward to a new string of UK and European tour dates next year.
But his return to music was a rocky one, after initially abandoning his fourth album eight months into writing it, feeling dissatisfied and disillusioned with his work. "I just felt like crap and the songs sounded like s***,' he says, wincing slightly.
"In the space of three years I lost my Dad, Paul, my big brother Alexis, who was 43, and my nephew Callum, who was only 21. Alexis and Callum died just a year apart. After my Dad died it was heartbreaking to start losing the next generations."
Morrison's father, who left home when his son was four, was a life-long alcoholic who lost his battle with the bottle in 2010.
"Just afterwards I beat myself up feeling I should have done more to help him," he says.
"But by the end he was a law unto himself. We were in regular contact during his final weeks. I was still telling him, 'There's still time. You can be a grandad to Elsie.'
But he would just say, 'I don't need help'.
"The night he died from a heart attack, I was on tour. I'd left my mobile in the recording studio the night before and, when I collected it, it was packed with missed calls from my dad. No messages, just missed calls. Man, that was brutal. I'll never know now what he wanted to say to me."
Morrison gazes down at his lap, unconsciously tapping his knee. It is a poignant pause.
Lost in thought, the musician unconsciously fiddles with a silver St Christopher hanging around his neck. "It was my father's," he says. "He always wore it. Now I do."
Morrison was inconsolable after his father's death, he admits. "I had told him a month before, 'If you don't deal with this you are going to die'. When he did, I was crying in bed all day, just numb."
Morrison is reluctant to go into detail about the circumstances of his brother and nephew's death, not wanting to reopen deep family wounds and sorrows. All he will comment is: "Let's just say it is something that's in the family, one of those things that run through families."
So Morrison simply exited the music scene.
He moved to his mansion in a remote village in Gloucestershire and built that gate to hide behind.
He revelled in taking Elsie swimming, spending hours with his family and recharging his emotionally exhausted batteries.
And it worked. Fatherhood has brought him enormous joy. "It's the best thing ever," he says, his eyes aglow. '
"Singing, song writing, they're my passion, sure. But nothing, absolutely nothing beats being a dad. My daughter Elsie is the utter joy of my life."
But becoming a parent has been tinged with sadness too. "I would really love to have more kids, I'd like three," he says.
"But when Gill, my partner, was pregnant with Elsie she discovered she has kidney problems which means another pregnancy may never happen.
"IVF would never be an option for us. I've heard horror stories about it. And I very much believe in nature over an artificial process.
"But if it's not meant to be, I'm content. I feel very lucky to have my beautiful Elsie."
One poignant track on his new album, Demons, reflects on Morrison's father's constant refrain that it was "his demons" that made him drink.
For the singer, his own demon is a lack of self esteem.
"Because my childhood was impoverished I always felt I was this kid with no voice," he says.
"Then, suddenly, I had a voice. A big voice. But overcoming my demons hasn't been easy. Writing songs is my way of conquering them."
Adjusting to fame and fortune has not come easily to Morrison.
Much of the story of his tough upbringing in Reading is told through his lyrics: his alcoholic, absent father; an erratic, hippy mother; grinding debt; a trail of dead-beat jobs; a failed attempt at Fame Academy and, to his chagrin, a U in A-level music.
He trained to be a carpet fitter before he convinced his first label, Polydor, he was worth signing.
He burst on to the music scene in 2006 with the top five single You Give Me Something, and from the beginning he was hailed as the new Otis Redding, the new Bob Dylan.
Two years later he released Broken Strings, his duet with Nelly Furtado, which reached No2 - although it took him a while to accept that he was a success.
"For ages I was careful with money, afraid it would disappear as swiftly as it came," he says.
"But since my dad died I have viewed things differently. Now I like the fact I can take my auntie to The Ritz, or pay off her mortgage. To date I've bought six houses," he laughs.
"Two for my mum, two for my brother and one for my sister. Sometimes I feel like I'm an estate agent."
And then there's the home he shares with Gill and Elsie. "It's a sort of 1900 country gentleman's residence," he says, "which is hilarious because I was always an urban kid. But there are still times when I wake up wondering, "When is the landlord going to come round and kick me out?'"
In the New Year, before he returns to touring, Morrison is planning a holiday in the Caribbean.
But before that there will be the traditional family Christmas, the sort of festive occasion he could only dream of as a child.
"Mum always did her best, she tried to get us presents and at least a chicken. But money was always short," he says. "I do recall one Christmas when my only presents were a clementine and a packet of felt-tip pens."
As for New Year's resolutions, there is one habit Morrison has been trying to kick for years.
"Er, smoking," he admits with a wry smile. "Rod Stewart has warned me smoking will ruin my voice if I don't give it up. 2016, that could be the year," he says sheepishly.
"Definitely. Well, maybe. Time for a cigarette..."